The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Making the Most of Our Energy Revolution

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 5, 2014

Ultimately, America’s energy revolution is what we choose to make of it – through the policy strategies and actions taken by our leaders and governments. Thanks to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the United States is enjoying an energy boom – the harnessing of vast reserves of oil and natural gas that power our economy and enable modern lifestyles. Will that revolution be sustained and expanded? That’s America’s energy choice.

workersOn energy, policy matters. During a speech on the impacts of federal energy policy at this week’s Uintah Basin Energy Summit in Salt Lake City, API President and CEO Jack Gerard said America’s energy renaissance is revitalizing some parts of the country while others are being made to wait for energy benefits because of “backward and shortsighted” policy from Washington.

Gerard compared Pennsylvania and Utah. He noted that Williamsport, Pa., in the heart of the Marcellus Shale, essentially enjoys full employment because of increased energy development. Similar economic opportunity from energy is being denied in Utah because a large portion of the state’s population lives on or near lands controlled by the federal government. Gerard:

“The major difference between Utah and Pennsylvania, both pro-business and energy production states, is not a result of geologic science but political science. Just 2.1 percent of Pennsylvania’s land is controlled by the federal government. In contrast, two-thirds, 66.5 percent, of Utah’s land is under federal control. That’s not to say that you and your colleagues don’t make the most of the job creation and economic growth potential of the energy resources that you can develop. It is, however, an unfortunate reminder of the strong policy headwinds you face as the result of badly misguided federal energy policy.”

Gerard said according to government statistics, the number of federal onshore drilling permits dropped 43 percent from 2008 to 2013, while the actual number of wells drilled dropped 52 percent. A Congressional Research Service study found that in federal areas, production from 2009 through 2013 was down 6 percent for crude oil and 28 percent for natural gas, he said. On private and state lands oil and natural gas production is up 61 percent and 33 percent, respectively. Gerard:

“… where development is possible in federal areas, permitting and leasing is a slow and cumbersome process. That’s not only bad politics, it’s bad policy and it is an unnecessary drag on a still shaky economy.”

Needed are elected leaders that choose “smart energy policies,” he said, to sustain energy development that has made the United States the world’s No. 1 producer of natural gas and which could see the U.S. lead the world in oil output by next year, according to the International Energy Agency. Gerard:

“Entrepreneurs in the private sector and smart, state-led policies have created and will continue to drive American energy production leadership. In an ideal scenario the federal government’s touch and oversight of the oil and natural gas industry or industry in general would be light and data-driven. We remind lawmakers, the public and particularly the administration that what has brought us to this point in history is the confluence of the American spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation and a willingness to take risk.”

That entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and risk-taking has allowed the oil and natural gas industry to support 9.8 million jobs and $1.2 trillion in U.S. GDP while providing $84 million a day to the federal government in royalties, bonuses paid and taxes. According to a Wood Mackenzie study, with the right policies industry could support an additional 1 million jobs in seven years and more than 1.4 million by 2030. Gerard:

“It is simple: if we are to create a better energy and economic future we’ll need policies and policymakers that are willing to partner with the oil and natural gas industry to develop responsibly the immense energy potential we have within our borders.”

The American people grasp the significance of America’s energy opportunity, he said. Recent polls show strong support for domestic oil and natural gas production and link it to greater U.S. energy security. The public also supports increased investments in energy infrastructure – most notably, the Keystone XL pipeline. Gerard:

“As the generation that will decide this nation’s energy path for decades to come, we must demand that those who act on our behalf, at all levels of government, use those principles as the foundation for their energy policy decisions. We must demand that they reject the outdated political ideology of the professional environmental fringe and refuse to let political orthodoxy drive their rulemaking or decisions on energy policy. We must demand that those who seek to represent us ignore the irresponsible and unrealistic ‘off-fossil fuel’ agenda, pushed by some. We must make it clear to our elected leaders that energy policy should not be a partisan talking point because it is too important and fundamental to our way of life.”

 America’s energy picture has dramatically reversed from one of scarcity to one of abundance. The question now, Gerard said, is whether we have “the political wisdom and foresight” to manage vast energy reserves in a way that continues to create jobs and opportunity. American energy, America’s choice. Gerard:

“We have to decide if we have the vision and will to continue on a path toward energy security and a brighter economic future, or if we want to base our energy policy on less reliable energy sources and ill-conceived ideology. … How we proceed with our game changing energy resources will come down to the energy policies we choose today. Future generations are looking to us to get our nation’s energy policy right. They are counting on us to leave them a country that is second-to-none in energy production, security and economic prosperity.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.